Sunday, August 01, 2010

House Guest: Annie and Snowball and the Cozy Nest by Cynthia Rylant

Happy day! It was May and Annie was happy. So many good things were happening.

Her cousin, Henry, was having a birthday.

The tulips she planted were blooming. And on her porch someone was making a nest.

Cynthia Rylant, that multiple-award winning author who has given us Newbery novels, Caldecott Medal books, and the delightful and evergreen beginning reader series Henry and Mudge and Mr. Putter and Tabby begins her Annie and Snowball and the Cozy Nest (Annie and Snowball Ready-to-Read) (Aladdin, 2010) with a simple but moving tribute to the joys of early summer in the spinoff Annie and Snowball series. Rylant offers up a quiet story of Henry's cousin Annie and her pet rabbit Snowball as the kids spend some tranquil moments on the porch swing watching for weeks while a nest fills up with five mystery eggs and waiting hopefully until they finally catch a glimpse of the mother robin responsible for the summer building project.

Soft, appealing illustrations contributed by notable veteran artist Sucie Stevenson and simple text make this series a delightful alternative to the Fancy Nancy I-Can-Read beginning reader series. For example, in her latest in this series, Rylant's Annie and Snowball and the Pink Surprise (Annie and Snowball Ready-to-Read) (Aladdin, 2010), Annie enlists the help of cousin Henry and his enormous St. Bernard dog in trying to entice more hummingbirds to her carefully tended garden. As always, Henry is a bit reluctant to get involved in these determinedly pink-tinged activities, but working together the cousins come up with a lot of fun for both of them along the way.

Keeping Henry on the cover and as a strong presence in the text gives this series a bit of appeal to those boy fans of the Henry series, while the big pink bow on the cover puts this newer series firmly in the pinkanista party for primary students in the beginning reader crowd. Summertime reading for young emergent readers is a good thing, and the veteran team of Rylant and Stevenson have plenty of offer.

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